5 Steps to a Successful Workout Warm-up
This article will not propose any new idea of particular novelty, but rather synthesize ideas in – hopefully – a novel understanding.
What is a Warm-up and why do we do it
My operating definition of warm-ups at the moment is simply: any work you do before a work out to better prepare yourself for it.
So, why warm-up? Most people know warming-up is of critical importance for injury prevention,etc., but do not know why. Here is what warming-up accomplishes and why we do it:
- improved blood viscosity
- decreased risk of injury
- performance assessment
- nervous system preparation
- body temperature increase (perhaps the origin of “warming up”)
My Warm-up Philosiphy
Before the 5 major tips I would like to outline the rational. My philosophy on warming-up is that you bring yourself into increasing states of preparedness – much similar to the law of specificity.
This means that your least specific work is done first, followed by movements of increased specificity until you perform the major sports task(s) at hand.
1 Static stretch/ ROM work/ Smashing
This is what you do first in the gym to warm-up. Some people may need more time than others, but the general idea is the same. Use a lacrosse ball or stretches to deal with anything too tight. Many powerlifting athletes need a lot of work here just to be able to squat, for example.
If you have any injuries or tight muscles, address them here.
Yes, cardio is scary. No, you are not going intense.
Hop on the treadmill or do any other form of cardio for 5-10 minutes. This is to get your blood flowing, body moving, and temperature up. Do not put in so much effort into cardio in warm-ups that it will make you tired and detract from the work out. Just get that heart rate slightly elevated.
3 Joints/ Muscle activation/ Movement pattern work
This portion of the warm-up is where you start to consider more of what the workout demand will be and prepare accordingly. I will not provide a list of everything you could possibly do here.
For example; If the bulk of your workout is squats then you will need to consider lateral and posterior hip activation, posterior chain activation, scapular and core stability,etc.
Carrying on with the example this would lead you to do exercises such as glute bridges, banded lateral walks, paused squats, counterbalance squats, internal/external shoulder rotations,etc.
4 Blood flow into the muscles
This is when we start touching some weights. Think about the muscles involved in the major sports task of your workout and pick a few movements to go light on.
If we are squatting I would do a few sets of hack squat, leg extensions, and hamstring curls. For bench press I might to tricep push downs, DB press, and lat pulldowns.
The idea on number 4 here is to activate the muscles even further by putting them under a slight load.
5 The Sports Task
The last step of a good warm-up is to now perform the sports task itself. This means if you are bench pressing during your workout then you are bench pressing here.
Do multiple sets with just the bar and then do multiple sets of increasing load until you feel comfortable to move into the working sets.
Warm-ups are of critical importance. If you only remember one thing from this article it is understanding how specificity applies to warm–ups. You are funneling yourself from an unprepared state to a ready state by addressing general needs and then getting specific.
If you have questions PLEASE DO contact me. I will respond and would love to give my classifications or further input.